TEMPLE HILLS, Md. - An off duty D.C. police officer says he was brutalized by a Prince George’s County police officer who profiled him as a suspect after a shooting at Iverson Mall on Tuesday.
A few minutes after a man was shot and wounded at the mall, Prince George’s County police descended on the Temple Hills neighborhood looking for a suspect who was only described as a black male wearing a hoodie and blue jeans.
Around the same time, Robert Parker, an off-duty D.C. police officer who was also dressed in a jacket, a hoodie and blue jeans, was walking away from the mall down Iverson Street. That's when he says a black Prince George’s County officer pulled up alongside him in a marked cruiser.
Parker, who is assigned to Harbor Patrol as a diver, says he was thrown to the ground and punched in the head, even as he was identifying himself as an officer, obeying all commands.
"And I can't remember if I said okay or was just kind of baffled at the moment, and he walked up to me and he started patting me down and I'm just thinking, is this really happening? Because I know the protocol because I'm a police officer," Parker told FOX 5's Paul Wagner. "He reaches around and feels my sidearm, my firearm and I look at him and I see the look in his eye and I say, 'I'm the police.' I'm literally slammed. I went to the ground I kept saying, 'I'm the police, I'm the police.' There were two other officers there. I felt their presence and they placed me in handcuffs, and then somebody hit me in the right side of my face."
Parker says he wasn't resisting and felt the take down and punch were totally unwarranted. He says he hates to pull the race card, but believes had he been white, the take down and what he views as excessive force would not have happened.
During the incident, Parker says he injured his wrist and went for treatment at the police and fire clinic as well as a hospital emergency room.
Prince George’s County police are defending their officer. They say he's a 20-year veteran with a lot of experience, and is a supervisor in that section of the county. They also issued a lengthy statement which reads:
“Based on our preliminary investigation and preliminary review of an audio recording of the encounter in question, we believe our officer acted professionally and with restraint. This encounter took place within several minutes of the shooting being reported at the mall and approximately three blocks from the scene. Our officer who was responding to the shooting, which had just prompted the lock-down of two nearby schools – spotted a man walking who matched the description. Our officer, a sergeant assigned to our district 4 station, got out of his cruiser and began an investigatory stop. During a pat down, our officer discovered the man had a gun on his waistband. At that point, our officer took the man to the ground during a brief struggle. Our preliminary investigation reveals that it was only after the man was restrained by the original officer and backup officers did he identify himself as a police officer.”
A notice given to FOX 5 on Wednesday evening by Prince George’s County police said there still has not been a formal complaint lodged by Officer Parker.